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Capitol Perspectives: A Passing Era at the Auditor’s Office

by Phill Brooks

The two deaths in the state auditor’s office mark, I fear, the passing of an era for Missouri statehouse reporters.

State Auditor Tom Schweich and his spokesperson, Spence Jackson, were among the most helpful, open, candid and friendly major state figures I have covered in recent years. They displayed a deep respect for journalism and went out of their way to help reporters.

Schweich often dropped by

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Call Before Digging

Attorney General Chris Koster recently announced his office obtained more than $50,000 in penalties from violators of Missouri’s Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention Act, also known as the Missouri One Call law.

Under that law, any person beginning an excavation must notify the Missouri One Call System prior to digging, to allow utility companies to check for underground lines in the area. The Missouri One Call System provides a

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State Treasurer Clint Zweifel Returns Unclaimed Property

More than $2.5 million to 11 accounts in 2015

Treasurer Zweifel protects more than $822 million for Missourians

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel (ZWY-ful) recently announced that he has returned more than $2.5 million of Unclaimed Property in large accounts back to Missouri families and businesses since the start of the new year. Treasurer Zweifel has returned 11 accounts since January, each valued at more than $100,000.

“My team has worked

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Capitol Perspectives: The Need for Audacity

by Phill Brooks

Missouri’s legislature left for its spring break with little progress on some of the state’s biggest issues — Ferguson, highway budget shortfalls and school-funding equity. While the Republican-dominated legislature has made substantial progress on GOP agenda items such as restricting welfare, right to work and limiting liability lawsuit awards, the more difficult issues have languished.

Neither chamber has passed anything to address a funding shortfall for Missouri

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Governing By Crisis Isn’t Governing At All

by Lee H. Hamilton

After Congress came a hair’s breadth from shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks ago, members of the leadership tried to reassure the American people. “We’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Congress, he said, would not lurch from crisis to crisis.

I wish

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Sam Graves Introduces Bill Reshaping the Army Corps’ Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Sam Graves (MO-06) today introduced legislation designed to improve the management of the Missouri River. This bill would remove “fish and wildlife” from the list of authorized purposes for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can undertake a river management project. Currently, the Corps’ Master Manual includes eight authorized purposes. By removing “fish and wildlife,” the Corps can focus more closely on projects related

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Capitol Perspectives: Improving the Missouri Legislature

by Phill Brooks

Legislative plans to use part of a $75 million bond issue to expand their statehouse space has led me to think about less expensive ways to improve the legislative process. What follows are ideas I’ve heard floating around the Capitol for decades along with a couple of my own.

Reconsider Term Limits: The life-time limit on how long a lawmaker can serve has had a devastating impact

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Capitol Perspectives: About Schweich’s Eulogy

by Phill Brooks

John Danforth’s eulogy for Missouri’s late auditor Tom Schweich reminded me of the inspiration I gained from Danforth as a young reporter covering him as state attorney general.

Danforth once was called the father of the modern Missouri Republican Party. He later became a leading critic of the current political process.

As an Episcopalian minister, ethics is at the core of John Danforth. I learned that from

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Learning to Be a Citizen

by Lee H. Hamilton

The question usually comes toward the end of a public meeting. Some knotty problem is being discussed, and someone in the audience will raise his or her hand and ask, “Okay, so what can I do about it?”

I love that question. Not because I’ve ever answered it to my satisfaction, but because it bespeaks such a constructive outlook. Democracy is no spectator sport and citizens

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